Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Interview with Roberta Trahan, author of The Well of Tears - September 18, 2012

Please welcome Roberta Trahan to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Well of Tears (The Dream Stewards 1) is published today! Happy Publication Day to Roberta!

You may read Roberta's Guest Blog - The Chicken-Egg Paradox: What Came First – the Story or the Character? - and  read an excerpt of The Well of Tears here.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Roberta:  I don’t know how interesting this is, but it is quirky. When I write, I cannot get comfortably settled unless I am seated with my back to a north facing wall. I like to think this is because the magnetic pull of the North Pole is somehow tied to my creative flow. In all reality, however, I’m probably just a little weird.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Roberta:  That’s always a tough question to answer – there are so many talented writers. To name just a few, I admire authors like Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Martin, and Jacqueline Carey for their creative genius and mastery of craft. And I always look forward to new works by Robin Hobb, Tanith Lee, and Terry Brooks. But the authors who have most influenced me as a writer are classical fantasy legends like JRR Tolkein, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Tarr, and Mary Stewart.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Roberta:  Hm. Well, I’d have to say I’m more of a plotser. I have a sort of piecemeal process that begins with a rough outline of about five key scenes, a protagonist, an antagonist, and at least one secondary character. I have a general idea of where the story starts and where it ends, but the middle is a complete mystery. As I start fleshing things out from the beginning, working toward each of the key scenes, characters and sub-plots start popping up and I kind of wing it from there. Honestly, my process is a mess. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Roberta:  Hah, well, as noted above, harnessing my writing process is my biggest challenge. I keep searching for a more streamlined approach, but haven’t found it yet.

TQ:  Describe The Well of Tears in 140 characters or less.

Roberta:  A post-Arthurian epic historical fantasy wherein a sorceress confronts a festering evil seeking to destroy her order and its magical legacy

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Well of Tears?

Roberta:  Initially I wanted to write about women stepping into power and all of the complications that presents. In the beginning, I had a character and story arc in mind, but no context or setting. About the same time, my older brother began researching our family history in Cornwall and Wales. I got caught up in his discoveries, which excited me because I felt like I suddenly had a personal connection to the land and the lore I had always loved. I found myself envisioning Alwen as a female version of Merlin, but the last thing I wanted to do was reinvent a legend that had been so well explored by other more talented writers. So I began looking for another time and place where sorcery might well have played a hand in the fates of mankind. Another writer, a lovely historian from Cornwall, introduced me to Hywel, a Welsh king who ruled about 500 years after Arthur and also achieved remarkable feats – as a man, and a monarch. As is the case with all of the history of these regions, very little is documented and most of what is believed to be true is basically an educated guess. This gave me some very fertile ground to work with, allowing me to blend fact and fantasy and create a legend of my own that is based at least in part on real events.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Well of Tears?

Roberta:  The research for this book, and the rest that will follow in The Dream Stewards series, took about a decade. I spent several years revisiting the early medieval history studies from my college days which focused largely on Western Europe, and then moved on to both Nordic and Celtic mythology and folklore. I also studied early medieval culture, religions, and medicine. The Internet allowed me to reach out to librarians and historians all over the world, who were instrumental in helping me find some very obscure sources, as well as what little information there was about Hywel the Good and the events that shaped his legendary reign. It was a lot of work, and I’m afraid I have forgotten more than I remember, but I loved every minute of it. I tend to get lost in the research, which is my second biggest writing challenge.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Roberta:  Ohhh, good question! The easiest character to write, by far, was Rhys. It was like he just arrived on my doorstep one day, completely self-aware and sure of who he was and why he was there. I never had to stop and ask myself, ‘now what would Rhys say’ or ‘what would he do’ or ‘how would he react’. I just knew. Alwen, on the other hand, gave me fits. She was a fight from start to finish. I think there was an ongoing struggle between who she was and who I wanted her to be, and I would guess this was because she is so representative of real women I know, dealing with the very real issues of career, family, and self-fulfillment in an environment that expects us to choose one over the other.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Well of Tears?

Roberta:  I can’t say it is my favorite because it’s just so sad, but the scene I am most proud of comes about three-quarters of the way through the book. There is a point in the story where Alwen realizes she has made a horrible mistake, almost too late. And yet, even as she is devastated by an unimaginable loss, Alwen finds the strength to help Odwain, who is beyond heartbroken. Very tough to write. My actual favorites are the male bonding moments, like the scene where Bledig is assessing Odwain’s potential as a son-in-law. Another of my favorites is Alwen teaching Glain the finding spell and the whole thing goes awry.

TQ:  What's next?

Roberta:  Next is the sequel, tentatively titled THE KEYS TO THE REALMS. In the second book of The Dream Stewards, Alwen must recover the four talismans that unlock the power of the magical realms, unite the Circle of Sages, and stabilize the leadership of the Stewardry before Hywel can unite and stabilize his nation. Hywel battles his own demons in this book, including a younger brother who wants the crown for himself, and a sorceress who wants more from him than he is willing to give. Magic, mayhem. and political intrigue ensues, though not necessarily in that order.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Roberta:  It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me – you’ve got a great place here!

The Well of Tears

The Well of Tears
The Dream Stewards 1
47North, September 18, 2012
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 325 pages

More than five centuries after Camelot, a new king heralded by prophecy has appeared. As one of the last sorceresses of a dying order sworn to protect the new ruler at all costs, Alwen must answer a summons she thought she might never receive.

Bound by oath, Alwen returns to Fane Gramarye, the ancient bastion of magic standing against the rise of evil. For alongside the prophecy of the benevolent king, a darker foretelling envisions the land overrun by a demonic army and cast into ruin.

Alwen has barely set foot in her homeland when she realizes traitors lurk within the Stewardry, threatening to destroy it. To thwart the corruption and preserve her order, Alwen must draw upon power she never knew she possessed and prepare to sacrifice everything she holds dear—even herself. If she fails, the prophecy of peace will be banished, and darkness will rule.

About Roberta

Roberta Trahan is a life-long writer and “fantasian” (lover of fantasy and history). She is also a Pacific Northwest native and former advertising & marketing maven. After too many years helping to cultivate other people’s ideas, Roberta decided to listen to the little voices in her own mind and began to build magical worlds populated with mystical beings. Roberta is a self-confessed coffeechocoholic and antique jewelry hoarder, and spends her more lucid moments with her family, friends, fellow fantasians, and the thriving writing community in the Seattle area.
THE WELL OF TEARS (47North, September 2012) is her first published novel, but hardly her last. Book Two of The Dreamstewards, THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, is coming soon!

Website : Idyll Conversation (Blog) : Twitter @robertatrahan  : Facebook

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a signed copy of The Well of Tears (The Dream Stewards 1) from Roberta Trahan!

How:   Answer the following questions:

Who is one of your favorite rulers (queen, king, etc.) from history or myth?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. Interresting history concept, hop e to win the give away.

    My favorite king would be Alexander the great.

    My tweet was:https://twitter.com/zaupa/status/248134830301278208

    leonardo zaupa leozaupa@gmail.com

  2. Thanks for a great post and congrats to Roberta on the new release!

    I've always been interested in Cleopatra :)

    gfc: erin

    1. Thanks, Erin. If you are interested in Cleopatra, you might enjoy Stephanie Dray's series of novels focusing in her daughter, Cleopatra Selene (Song of the Nile, Lily of the Nile). Lots of history and a little magic, too.

  3. I think Cleopatra is interesting.

    I follow the blog.


  4. I have to go with Queen Victoria. We share the same name and she ruled more than half the world :)!
    GFC Victoria Sloboda
    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/Jovial_1/status/248147919843254272


  5. I just voted for this cover on Indtale.com :)

    I've got two favorite rulers that run so close I couldn't pick just one. William The Conqueror and Henry II of England. If I could go back in time and pick some brains it would be those two. I'm such a medieval lover and I cannot wait to read The Well Of Tears. Thank you for doing the interview and for the chance in this giveaway.


    1. I forgot to mention...
      Shared a link to this post on Facebook

    2. Hi Leah. Thanks for the support, and I hope you enjoy the book!

  6. Alexander the Great because he was so complex and so driven to succeed:)

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower
    +1 tweet: https://twitter.com/jwitt33/status/248227693475278852

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  7. I love King Arthur and Camelot. Thanks for the giveaway. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  8. Arthur, of course, must be one of nearly everyone's favorites. I also enjoy the villains, Richard III for example, but I don't think I would have liked to have known him very well.

    I follow this blog by email so I'm very easy to contact: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    I also tweeted about the giveaway: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/248290888768450560

  9. Gosh. Fav ruler huh? ummmmmmm..... I cannot think of one that I could classify as my fav...
    for additional entries:
    I am a Follower of The Qwillery.
    email (below) and GFC - lavendersbluegreen
    I tweeted the giveaway:
    - lavendersbluegreen(at)yahoo(dot)com

  10. Queen Elizabeth I has always fascinated me. A strong woman in a man's world.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  11. Queen Elizabeth I. She is one of the strongest woman and an powerful icon of that era.
    GFC: Gisele Alvarado
    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/Gisselle_Alv/status/249609006971224064


  12. So amazing that a character can come to you complete, nothing to add you just know what and who they are.
    As for rulers, Genghis Khan was always impressive. Frightening too.

    GFC follower Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail